As someone who teaches yoga teachers, I am always asked how I keep up with my own asana practice. I typically answer the same way each time, “with moderation and interest.” I realize that that might not be the kind of response they were hoping to hear. Often times its followed by other questions like, “But, what poses do you practice?”, “What time of the day do you think it’s best to practice?”, or “For how long do you practice?” Then I explain myself by saying, “I moderate my practice of what, how and when according to what else I let into my day.”
The truth is, I’ve tried many different practice methods. For years I practiced asana on my mat at the same time every day and followed the same routine each time. Later I followed a practice specifically for each season based on an Ayurvedic recipe. After I got bored with that, I practiced standing poses the first week, back bends the second week, seated poses the third week and inversions the last week of each month. It was fun trying different methods for keeping my practice current; however, ultimately, I believe that integration and focus of my practice emerged when I acknowledged the feelings of what keeps me whole and supports everything else I may be tethered to that day.
Here’s a question I ask myself every day: What is the wisdom of this day trying to teach me? If I know I am going to have a very full day, I schedule time on my mat for a restorative session. If I am stressed about a writing deadline, I practice supported forward bends and inversions of all kinds to calm my nervous system and clear my mind. If I am distracted, I set aside time for pranayama. Knowing that I have a tool box of interesting poses, breathing and meditation techniques that I can choose from to bring more balance to my day, and in some cases heal a particular place in me, helps to keep me current.
If you know that you feel good when you practice Downward Facing Dog, then strike the pose when you’re not feeling so good. If you know that going upside clears your head, then strike the pose when you’re lacking clarity. If you know that Warrior II helps you tap into your inner strength and courage, then strike the pose when you feel fearful and small. It can be one pose or many. Typically, one pose that changes your inner environment, wakes up your consciousness or calms a weary mind, will beget another pose, and another.
With an intention to grow and reconcile differences in my body and mind, yoga is always interesting. And moderation with all things helps me to address my life and yoga practice both holistically and sensibly.